Lecture

1 November 2007

On Flexible Citizenship

What positive possibilities could appear for contemporary Europe’s social space from the clash between two conflicting tendencies: the celebration of transnational space on the one hand, and the resurgence of hyper-nationalisms at the regional and local levels on the other? Rosi Braidotti argues that a process of transformation of identities in the sense of “becoming minoritarian” might create such a space and expand our notion of citizenship. Becoming minoritarian is a way of approaching and critiquing power relations that is grounded in notions such as “nomadic identities,” “accountability,” and the “antiracist re-location of whiteness.” It promotes a critical re-grounding of false niversalism into a more situated, local perspective in order to “undo its hegemonic tendencies.” “Flexible citizenship” thus provides an application of post-nationalist and anti-racist identities that is especially relevant within contemporary European debates on citizenship, the inclusion of “others” and multiple belongings. Braidotti discusses how, in opposition to the hegemonic tendencies of “Fortress Europe,” the delinking of nationality and ethnic identity from issues of citizenship–which is the key to the flexible idea of citizens–actualizes the becoming minoritarian of Europe by positively reversing the political, social, and cultural meanings attributed to the notion of foreigners. The first step in this process is the recognition of the need for analysis of and accountability for the reality of today’s multicultural Europe, which must include a balanced assessment of its colonial past and the role that totalitarian ideologies like fascism and communism have played in its history. This is both a challenge and necessity, as paradoxically, the post-nationalist vision of Europe only becomes thinkable at the historical time when European hegemony has ceased to be self-evident.

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